Back in 2015, almost 40 couples in Mumbai witnessed breach of privacy when the police knocked on the doors of their hotel rooms and detained them on the charges of ‘indecent behaviour in public’. But that wasn’t a one-off incident. It cannot be denied that unmarried couples often find themselves under the scrutiny of judgemental eyes if looking to rent a room. However, StayUncle, a New Delhi-based start-up has made the task easy for adults who have a valid government approved identity card.
Owned by Sanchit Sethi, a BITS-Pilani graduate, the 2015 start-up aims to facilitate affordable room-renting services for short as 8-10 hours without any hassles. “There is no law in India that prohibits (unmarried) couples from renting a room. As long as you have a government identity card, you should be given a room. We don’t live in the 1950s anymore. What we are trying to do is change the mindset of hoteliers,” Sethi told Quartz.
Getting hotels to agree is also a challenging task for the company. The first hotel to agree into the arrangement was Ace Residency, a budget hotel in New Delhi’s upmarket Greater Kailash area. Since then StayUncle has roped in 34 hotels in the capital and 10 in Mumbai. According to Sethi, the list includes luxury hotels like Trident and Oberoi. “Out of 10 hotels we speak to, only two or three eventually sign up. This is a new industry and people often see this as going against the culture of the country and there is always the fear of moral policing,” he added.
Earlier, Sethi’s plan was to cater to travellers but he realised that most of the inquiries they received were from unmarried couples. Hence, they decided to change the plan. Reportedly, they have provided services to 200-odd couples till date.
Privacy is and will always remain a concern in budget hotels, but Sethi ensures that the hotels who have tied up with StayUncle are safe.
And most interestingly, the company of three, as they have written on their blog has crowdsourced everything. After the word spread on social media, they are getting calls and requests from across the country. They write “You demand better website. Android app. iOS app. Hotels in Chennai, Calcutta, Dehradun, Allahabad, Mysore, Kanyakumari, Chandigarh, Katra,” to which their solution is people can built a mobile app for StayUncle, design a better website, rope in hotels from their cities, all of which will be considered seriously by the company.